Environmentally Friendly Without Compromise

“It wasn’t too long ago that people would assume you had to trade performance for environmental sensitivity when it came to products in your home,” shares Normandy Designer Laura Barber. “Fortunately, those days are behind us. Smart usage of natural resources has become almost standard, letting style and function return to the center stage in all areas of the home.”

Let’s start by taking a look at water usage. The WaterSense label is a distinction made by the EPA that indicates a fixture meets the required flow rates of water. “WaterSense fixtures are required by many towns and villages, and the good news is that manufacturers have virtually perfected the use of more modest levels of water without consequence,” notes Laura. Gone are the days of the low-flow toilets that took multiple flushes to get the job done. Today’s toilets use a fraction of the water that their predecessors did, and often do the job even better.

Shower heads are another place that people are reluctant to opt for a lower water usage option, but the plumbing manufacturers have a few tricks up their sleeves. “Effectively they’ve found a way to inject air into the spray to give you the same forceful shower experience you’re looking for, but using a lot less water,” notes Laura. “You can even find most WaterSense fixtures in modern and traditional styles, so you don’t even have to compromise on the look of your bathroom to keep your water usage in check.”

It’s even easier to make smart choices for the planet in the kitchen. “Combination trash and recycling pull-outs are basically standard offerings from cabinet manufacturers these days,” shares Laura. “For people who are really savvy about limiting their environmental impact, a built-in compost container in the kitchen makes it simple to segment your compostable scraps from your normal trash so that you can put them in your outdoor compost bin later.”

WaterSense fixtures are exceptionally common in kitchen faucets as well. “You can find almost any style or arrangement of faucet that will meet the WaterSense criteria,” says Laura. “If you recall, most of the towns these days require you to use WaterSense fixtures whenever possible, so the manufacturers have done a great job of giving you an amazing number of options and styles to choose from that still meet the water usage criteria.”

When it comes to electricity consumption there are some exciting trends that are becoming more mainstream. “Induction cooktops, which have long been used in Europe, are starting to become much more popular in the States,” says Laura. “They are actually magnetic, and they work by just heating up the pan itself. No wasted energy that would otherwise lose heat from around the side, something that is particularly common in older cooktops when using smaller pots and pans.”

Lighting is another element that’s been transformed in the past few years. “LED lighting isn’t just for can lights, we’re integrating it into under cabinet lighting as well as strip lighting within the cabinets themselves,” shares Laura. “In fact, the small size of the LED lights let you do some creative and fun things that weren’t possible with incandescent bulbs.”

Outside of the kitchen and bath, some of the greatest advances are effectively unseen. “One of the best ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home is by properly insulating it,” says Laura. “Remodeling is a great opportunity to increase the amount of insulation in your home since you’ll likely have the walls opened up for electrical and plumbing anyhow. To really improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may even want to increase the amount of insulation in your attic. Take advantage of the unique access to your walls and attic to make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Seating area off kitchen additionToday’s exterior doors and windows are almost always going to do a better job at keeping drafts at bay than older models, and a new furnace or air conditioner will also operate at levels of efficiency that were not possible from your existing units.

Integrating choices that are smart for the planet have never been easier, in fact many of these options are almost a given these days. Talk with Laura about some more of the unseen ways you can make your house more environmentally friendly when you remodel, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to find even more tips for your home.

Houzz Helps Resolve a Remodeling Mismatch Between Spouses

If it feels like the clash of the titans when you and your spouse have conversations about remodeling plans, you’re not alone. Modern or traditional? Light face-lift or major overhaul? Dark wood or light paint? These discussions can get so heated, you may feel like the two of you have nothing in common when it comes to design, which makes the entire process seem hopeless.

This scenario of design-mismatched spouses is more common than you would imagine. Fortunately, Normandy Designers are used to helping couples navigate these differences of opinion, and even have a few tricks up their sleeves to help things move along smoothly. One of the most effective ways Normandy Designer Leslie Lee uses to help her clients find common ground is the photo sharing website, Houzz.

If you’re not familiar with Houzz, it’s a website that compiles millions of photos, specific to homes, and lets you save your favorites in digital folders called ideabooks. These ideabooks can be focused on different rooms in the home, or different possible solutions you’re considering. “The first step in using Houzz is for you and your spouse to each create your own account,” says Leslie. “This allows each of you to cultivate your own style and preferences without causing conflict. It also lets designers like me see each of your unique perspectives, so that I can compare and contrast both styles, find similarities, and figure out which way to blend them best.”

“Houzz also allows you to create shared ideabooks, making them the perfect way to join forces with your spouse and create a place where both of your ideas are represented,” Leslie states. “In order to create a shared ideabook, you simply enter your spouse’s email address associated with their account in your newly created book. Then, you check the edit box allowing them to freely add their ideas to the shared board.” You may also want to add a brief note in the comment section when adding a picture, to explain to your partner (and to remind yourself) exactly what you liked about a specific photo or idea.

Once your Houzz ideabooks are created, your design professional knows just how to make both of your style voices heard. “For me, asking lots of questions about preferences and functionality allows me to gain a better understanding of each person,” Leslie adds. “Style-wise, there’s usually a color palette or common attributes such as clean lines, that I can spot among all the photos, which may be harder for people to identify on their own. Ultimately, it’s my job to create a design that wows both partners, and people are often surprised at how much I can find they have in common in their likes and preferences.”

When you’re ready to meet with a design professional, your advance prep work will come in handy. “Coming into a consultation with lots of research and examples makes the process much easier,” Leslie states. “It gives me a head start on understanding where you’re coming from, minimizes the potential for conflict between partners, and can make the overall design process go a bit quicker.”

Whether you and your spouse are in-step, or if you need an expert to help you navigate toward a solution, set up a time to talk with Leslie about your home addition or major remodel. You can also get a head start on your Houzz ideabooks, or find even more inspiration and insight on Facebook and Instagram.

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